Hungarian State Opera loses chief conductor, Ádám Fischer
29 October 2010, Budapest, Hungary
Ádám Fischer(Photo: Lukas Beck)
The chief conductor of the Hungarian National Opera, Ádám Fischer, has decided to step down.
Fischer’s decision comes just days after the Opera's general director, Lajos Vass, was fired over financial irregularities. A government audit of the company is reported to have uncovered deficits totalling more than one billion forint (3.6 million euros, five million dollars).
“The Minister of Culture has now appointed a special commissioner who acts in the Opera House with full powers,” says Opera Now correspondent, Brendan Carroll. “In addition, the Minister had very recently instructed Lajos Vass to appoint a new general music director – who is to be György Rath – only then to get rid of Vass himself. As yet, there is no new general director to replace Vass.”
These developments follow Vass’s decision in June not to renew the contract of the Opera’s former artistic director, Balázs Kovalik, credited with attempting to strike a new creative path for the company, but not always popular with critics.
The Hungarian weekly Heti Válasz had suggested that “what is really behind Lajos Vass not extending Kovalik's contract is no more than an attempt to save his own job” – a reflection of Vass’s unpopularity in his role at the Opera.
Moreover, says Carroll, “the appointment of Vass was purely political as he had no knowledge of music or opera. The jokes about him were rife and one wonders what he and Fischer ever talked about.”
Fischer will conduct four more concerts this season under his current contract before stepping down. However, the special commissioner appointed by the ministry has indicated a desire to continue working with Fischer, and is reported as saying "We will count on his work in the future as well.”
Carmen Elektra at the Cambridge Museum of Zoology
28 October 2010, Cambridge, UK
Combining short operas with DJ sets, film projections and light installations at informal venues, Carmen Elektra was launched earlier this year with its production of Seven Deadly Sins.
The fledgling company’s next event will take place on 29 October 2010 amidst the glass cabinets and animal skeletons of the Cambridge Museum of Zoology.
“Thrusting opera into the 21st-century realm of horror movies, total theatre and ‘gore‐porn’”, this macabre setting will play host to the world premiere of Bonesong by Joe Snape and Kate Whitley, and Hans Gruber’s rarely staged Frankenstein!.
Bonesong – scored for a 10‐piece chamber ensemble plus live electronics – explores a vulture’s insatiable love for a young girl, through desire, seduction, betrayal and suffering. Carmen Elektra's unique production features spine‐tingling 4‐channel sound diffusion, electronic samples sourced from the dismantling of a dead cow, and a gasping, muttering children’s chorus hidden amongst the audience.
Director Thom Andrewes’ staging of Frankenstein! promises to be no less unsettling, transporting the audience to the hideout of a psychopathic killer – with shocking consequences.
Friday 29th October, 8.00pm, The University Museum of Zoology, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ. Suggested ticket donation of £3 on the door. Suitable for ages 15+.
- Facebook – Carmen Elektra: Opera Underground
News round-up – 27 October 2010
27 October 2010
Josep Pons(Photo: Antoni Bofill)
PHILIPPE AUGIN GETS TOP JOB IN WASHINGTON
“Exceptional conductor” becomes Washington National Opera music director
Philippe Augin has been appointed as the music director of Washington National Opera and the Kennedy Centre Opera Orchestra, effective immediately. The 59-year-old French conductor made his company debut in November 2009 and is reported as saying that “From the moment I stepped onto the podium, I felt a special rapport with the talented musicians of the Orchestra.” WNO General Director Plácido Domingo welcomed Augin’s appointment, describing him as an “exceptional conductor and an excellent choice”.
THE LICEU APPOINTS CATALAN DIRECTOR
Josep Pons to take up position in 2012-13
Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu has appointed a Catalan conductor as the company’s new music director. Josep Pons will assume his duties in 2012-13, replacing Michael Boder, who is now entering his third season. Pons’ appointment is designed to strengthen the company’s Catalan credentials and will run until 2017, with the option to renew by mutual agreement until 2019.
CORK OPERA HOUSE RECEIVES EXTRA €250K FROM GOVERNMENT
Funding given to meet “exceptional one-off costs”
Cork Opera House, which received an interest-free loan of €1 million last year, has been granted an additional €250,000 by Cork City Council to meet “exceptional one-off costs” being faced by the company. The move has prompted some councillors to raise concerns about the level of public funding being given to the House, which recently came under scrutiny when fraud squad detectives were called in to investigate the alleged misappropriation of funds totalling €63,000. The funds have since been recovered.
CONDUCTOR STEPHEN BARLOW TO LEAD BUXTON FESTIVAL
New Artistic Director appointed
Buxton Festival in England has appointed a new Artistic Director – British conductor, Stephen Barlow – who will hold the reigns for an initial period of three years, from 2012 to 2014. Barlow replaces outgoing director, Andrew Greenwood, whose programme for July 2011 features five productions, including Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan, Handel’s Saul and Thomas’ Mignon.
STAATSOPER UNTER DEN LINDEN RELOCATES FOR THREE YEARS
Berlin’s Schiller Theatre to house company until 2013
The Staatsoper Unter den Linden has temporarily relocated to Berlin’s Schiller Theatre, making way for extensive renovations to the company’s regular home, Unter den Linden. The Schiller Theatre itself has recently been restored at a cost of €20 million to make it suitable as a venue for opera.
BOSTON LYRIC OPERA ANNOUNCES FREE FAMILY DAY
Free Open House – 6 November 2011
Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) is offering a free day of fun activities for families and opera fans at the city’s Shubert Theatre on 6 November 2010. Featuring performances, backstage tours and musical activities for all ages, the day also includes the final of BLO’s Aria Contest for Teens.
VIRGINIA OPERA ARTISTIC DIRECTOR TO MOVE ON
Peter Mark’s longstanding contract will not be renewed when it ends in 2012
Peter Mark, who has held the position of Artistic Director with Virginia Opera since 1975, will move on from the company when his contract ends on 31 May 2012. The board’s decision was announced earlier this month by founding president, Edythe Harrison.
German opera director Joachim Herz dies, aged 86
20 October 2010
Joachim Herz(Photo: Helga Wallmüller)
Opera Now correspondent, Della Couling, reports:
The great German opera director Joachim Herz died in Leipzig on 18 October, aged 86.
Born in Dresden in 1924, Herz was drafted into the German army during the final stages of World War II. With the end of hostilities Herz found his hometown now in the Russian zone, and in spite of the difficulties this imposed, forged a brilliant career in what became the German Democratic Republic.
After music studies in Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin, Herz made his debut as a director in Dresden in 1950.
He then embarked on a peripatetic career that was followed by permanent posts as director of the Leipzig Opera from 1976, director of the Komische Oper Berlin from 1981, and director of the Dresden opera from 1981, where he directed Der Freischütz for the opening of the restored Semperoper in 1985. After 1991 he worked freelance again, all over the world, and also lectured widely.
Herz is considered one of the greatest influences on opera production in the second half of the twentieth century, and although influenced by Walter Felsenstein (whom he followed to the Komische Oper), Herz was very much his own man. His Wagner productions in particular have proved ground-breaking, although his enormous contribution to revolutionary post-war changes in opera production has not always been acknowledged.
The January/February 2011 issue of Opera Now will include a full assessment by Della Couling of Joachim Herz’s legacy.
Global opera-in-cinema listings launched online
20 October 2010, London, UK
The UK-based classical music listings website, Backtrack.com, has announced a partnership with DVD label Opus Arte and Emerging Pictures, North America’s largest all-digital Specialty Film and Alternate Content theatre network.
The new partnership will enable Bachtrack.com visitors to search forthcoming screenings of opera and ballet in their area.
Through daily feeds provided by Opus Arte and Emerging Pictures, Bachtrack.com will receive information about what operas and ballets are being screened when and where across the globe, ensuring that all listings are constantly kept up to date. In addition, Bachtrack.com has set up a live alert system so that visitors can set up and receive email alerts as and when a cinema of their choice schedules a performance matching any of those requested by the visitor.
Opus Arte's Head of Marketing, Jeff Coventry, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Bachtrack on their new alerts service. Opera and ballet has never been as accessible as it is today, and anything which helps audiences to find out what’s happening locally is a great step forward.”
This is the second partnership that Bachtrack.com has established, having teamed up with the Metropolitan Opera and the Berlin Philharmonic earlier this year.
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